SFO to offer free COVID testing program for arriving international passengers

Amancay Tapia

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As new virus variants continue to spread around the world, with countries such as India, Brazil, the UK, Turkey or Russia reporting a high number of confirmed cases, SFO together with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) have launched a pilot program which will pioneer in the U.S. to monitor and prevent the spread of these new variants in the United States.

The initiative makes sense considering last month, World Health Organisation officials confirmed that the delta Covid variant which was first detected in India, had spread to more than 80 countries.

SFO announced this week, that they will be the first airport in the country to launch the free COVID-19 testing program for international arriving passengers.

The program is expected to run for about five weeks and it will offer travelers with registered self-testing kits allowing the CDPH to monitor for COVID-19 variants in the state and develop mitigation strategies.

International passengers arriving at SFO will be provided two free Abbot BinaxNOWTM test kits and a PCR test kit. The first test is to be self-administered on the day of arrival, and the second test 3-5 days later.

Aiport officials confirmed that the Abbot BinaxNOWTM test kits return results in about 15 minutes and that if either result in a positive test, the participant will be directed to use the PCR test and send results into a state laboratory monitoring variants of COVID-19.

SFO Airport Director Ivar C. Satero said via statement,

We are proud to be the first airport in this pilot program with the California Department of Public Health. Throughout this pandemic, SFO has been leading the airport industry in developing onsite testing and vaccination capabilities. With this program, we take another important step forward in understanding how to track and defeat this pandemic.

Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer made it clear that the program aim is to stop the spread of COVID-19

This program ensures travellers will only bring back pleasant memories from their trip and not create unpleasant ones by unknowingly contracting or spreading COVID-19. CDPH continues to urge all Californians to protect yourself, family, friends, and your community by getting vaccinated.

Currently , the J&J single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is available for free at the airport Medical Clinic for anyone 18 years and older. The vaccine is offered to those passengers arriving or departing regardless of nationality or country of residence, and to make things easier, they accept walk-ins on a first-come basis but appointments are recommended.

SFO reminds travelers that face masks are still required by federal mandate for air travel, including at all U.S. airports and onboard aircraft, regardless of vaccination status. Passengers travelling to SFO must keep their masks on at all times when in their premises.

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